The Ultimate Guide to Wearing a Concealed Carry Holster: Positions, Preferences, and Materials

As an increasing number of individuals exercise their right to carry firearms, understanding how to properly wear a concealed carry holster has become more crucial than ever. There’s more to it than simply tucking a firearm into a waistband. This guide will provide an in-depth exploration of the best positions for concealed carry holsters, when and how to load your firearm, the comfort level of concealed carry holsters, and a comparison of the two most popular holster types—In the Waistband (IWB) and Outside the Waistband (OWB)—along with their preferred carrying positions and materials.

IWB vs OWB: An Introduction

The choice between an IWB or OWB holster depends on several factors, including comfort, convenience, and, most importantly, the ease of concealing your firearm.

IWB Holsters are designed to be worn inside the pants, making them a top choice for concealed carry. They attach to your belt, allowing the holster to be tucked securely into your waistband. Most people find IWB holsters more convenient for concealed carry due to the lower visibility and easier access they provide.

OWB Holsters, on the other hand, are worn outside the waistband. While not as easily concealed as their IWB counterparts, they provide a comfortable carry method, often preferred by law enforcement and those who open carry.

Preferred IWB Positions: Appendix Carry and Behind the Hip

There are two primary positions for wearing an IWB holster: appendix carry and behind the hip carry. Both positions come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Appendix Carry, referring to the position in the front of the body near the appendix, allows for quick access to your firearm and control over it. Some carriers prefer this position as it’s easier to draw the firearm from a seated position, but it may not be comfortable for all, especially when sitting or bending.

Behind the Hip Carry places the holster and firearm around the ‘4 to 5 o’clock position’, roughly where your wallet sits in your back pocket. This position is often lauded for comfort and can offer a less noticeable firearm imprint, but it can make the firearm harder to reach, particularly if you’re seated.

Loaded or Unloaded? Safety in Holstering

A question frequently posed by those new to concealed carry is whether to keep a firearm loaded in the holster. The answer hinges on the individual’s comfort, training, and legal guidelines in their jurisdiction. Many experts recommend a loaded and chambered carry, asserting that in a high-stress situation, the fewer steps between you and the ability to defend yourself, the better. However, this requires diligent safety practices, including regular handling and safety training. Always follow local laws and regulations regarding carrying loaded firearms.

Comfort and Concealed Carry Holsters

Comfort is subjective, varying greatly from one person to another. Some may find wearing a concealed carry holster uncomfortable initially, while others adjust quickly. A properly fitted and positioned holster, coupled with appropriate clothing, can significantly increase comfort levels. Experimenting with different holsters, positions, and adjustment angles may be necessary to find the perfect fit.

IWB Holster Materials: Kydex vs Leather

The choice of holster material can greatly influence comfort, durability, and ease of draw. Kydex and leather are two of the most common materials used in IWB holster production.

Kydex is a type of thermoplastic that is molded to fit specific firearms. It is durable, lightweight, and doesn’t require a break-in period. Kydex holsters retain their shape, making re-holstering easier, and they’re resistant to sweat and weather conditions. However, they can be less comfortable against the skin and may cause wear on the firearm finish over time.

Leather holsters, on the other hand, offer a classic, comfortable fit. They generally require a break-in period to fit the firearm perfectly, but they’re known for their durability and aesthetic appeal. Leather holsters can conform to the body better than Kydex, offering a more comfortable carry. However, they require more care, can retain moisture, and may not retain their shape over time, making re-holstering a bit more difficult.

Concealed carrying is a personal decision and requires personal choices based on comfort, convenience, and safety. Whether you prefer an IWB or OWB, appendix carry or behind the hip, Kydex or leather, finding the right balance for you is key. Remember, always adhere to local laws and regulations, prioritize safety, and continuously train with your chosen setup to ensure you are confident and competent in its use.

How to Wear a CCW Holster FAQ

Q: What is the best position for a concealed carry holster?

A: The “best” position largely depends on personal comfort and ease of access. The two main positions for an IWB holster are appendix carry and behind-the-hip carry. Appendix carry provides quick access, even when seated, but can be uncomfortable for some, especially when bending or sitting. Behind-the-hip carry offers comfort and a less noticeable imprint, but it may be harder to reach the firearm when seated.

Q: Should I keep my gun loaded in the holster?

A: Many concealed carry experts recommend keeping a gun loaded and chambered in the holster, as fewer steps are needed to defend oneself in a high-stress situation. However, this method requires a high level of safety awareness, regular handling, and adherence to local laws and regulations regarding carrying loaded firearms.

Q: Where is the best place to wear an IWB holster?

A: Most people prefer to wear an IWB holster in the appendix position (front of the body) or behind the hip. These positions offer a balance of comfort, concealment, and ease of access. Ultimately, the best place to wear an IWB holster will depend on your personal comfort and ability to draw the firearm quickly and safely.

Q: Are concealed carry holsters uncomfortable?

A: The comfort of a concealed carry holster can vary greatly depending on the type of holster, its position, and personal preference. Some people might find them uncomfortable initially, but with the right holster and adjustments, most people can achieve a comfortable carry.

Q: What are the main materials used for IWB holsters, and what are their pros and cons?

A: The two main materials used for IWB holsters are Kydex and leather. Kydex is a durable, lightweight thermoplastic that doesn’t require a break-in period and retains its shape well, making re-holstering easier. However, it can be less comfortable against the skin and may cause wear on the firearm finish over time. Leather holsters offer a comfortable, classic fit but require a break-in period and may retain moisture. They also might not maintain their shape as well over time, making re-holstering more difficult.